Pohnpei NGOs and Government agencies host second Mangrove Conference

By Conservation Society of Pohnpei

 

March 17, 2021

Pohnpei—On March 17th, the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), in partnership with Pohnpei State Department of Resources and Development (R&D), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) co-hosted the Second Mangrove Conference. The objectives of the conference were to bring together elected officials from both state and municipal governments, village chiefs, resource managers and stakeholders to inspire sharing of information and continued stewardship of the mangrove ecosystem that provides protection, livelihoods and ecosystem services to the people of Pohnpei. The conference also provided an opportunity for the local resource managers to report on the recent findings from the rigorous surveys conducted in the past years by United States Forest Services (USFS), US Geological Survey (USGS), and the University of Tasmania in partnership with Pohnpei state government and local partners to evaluate the status of Pohnpei’s mangroves. The surveys provided some recommendations and strategies from the analysis that are critical for decision-making in terms of mangrove management.

The 1st Mangrove Conference was held in November 2020 where it established a dynamic platform motivating a dialogue between resource management agencies, elected officials, village chiefs and community members. The 2nd conference was a follow up to the first one mainly to discuss and prioritize actions based on the recommendations provided by the recent surveys. The participants broke out into working groups representing each municipality to review and prioritize the recommendations. After some deliberate discussions between the municipalities, everyone finally agreed to settle on 5 immediate recommendations that would help improve the management of our mangrove in the long run.

Development of the Pohnpei State Mangrove Management Plan was the top recommendation across all municipalities. Over thirty years, laws and regulations were established to manage our valuable mangrove without a management plan. The second recommendation was to strengthen conservation laws agreed upon at all levels (community, municipal, state, and national governments) and to enforce them at all levels. Improving local management capacity was the third recommendation prioritized by all municipalities. This particular recommendation is very critical as it will build competency and awareness at all levels. The fourth recommendation was to strengthen science and the traditional knowledge-based decision-making process. This is a call for our top officials to make proper decisions based on science and traditional knowledge. Resource management agencies must also heighten the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) protocols to make sure conditions are fully met. The last recommendation was to improve current dredging laws and regulations. There are 45 dredge sites around Pohnpei and 12 are still active with more rising. Should we keep the status quo, we might end up losing our vital coastal resource within the next ten years.

The partner agencies co-hosting the conference will compile the recommendations and draft an action plan which will then be transmitted to all decision-making officials at all municipal, state and national governments for endorsement. The municipal governments have also agreed to join the partnership by facilitating the awareness of the drafted action plan to the council of traditional chiefs at each municipality for their blessings. We aim to coordinate and continue this mangrove conference to be held once or twice every year. This way, we can keep building, changing and improving our management effort harmoniously with all stakeholders involved.